Citizens of Germany’s capital city are voicing frustrations at the growing number of restaurants where waiters only speak English. Fashionable suburbs like Mitte and Prenzlauer Berghave long attracted English and American tourists and expats, to the point at which many restaurants now advertise their menus exclusively in English and are hiring staff with limited German.
Jens Spahn, deputy finance minister of Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrat Union Party, has waded into the debate in an interview with Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.
“It increasingly drives me up the wall that waiters in some Berlin restaurants only speak English,” he said. “Co-existence can only work in Germany if we all speak German. We can and should expect this from every immigrant. You would never find this craziness in Paris.”
The calls come at a contentious time for Germany, which is still coming to terms with the influx of Syrian immigrants since the end of 2015. The German government has recently made it compulsory for immigrants to learn German, with those who do not running the risk of losing their benefits and the right to live there permanently. However, these moves also coincide with the Berlin business senator recently calling on institutions to embrace “intensive international exchange,” arguing that this is what gives Germany an edge over other European cities.